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Warning: Pretty much every image in the linked article is flagrantly, joyously NSFW. If your eyeballs disintegrate and hair grows on the palms of your hands when you click the link, well, don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Underground comics are by their nature transgressive, so it comes as no surprise that the Comix Classics: Underground Comics app produced by Toura, an app platform often used by museums, and Comic Art Productions and Exhibits, ran afoul of Apple’s content guidelines. As Kim Munson, who designed the app, explained to Michael Dooley of Imprint Magazine, the app is not a digital comic but “more of an interactive art exhibit.” It’s based on James Danky and Denis Kitchen’s book Underground Classics: The Transformation of Comics into Comix, and it contains all the comics from the book and the exhibit plus some new graphics.
Oddly, when the app was submitted to Apple, the iPad version was accepted as is (with a string of warnings to potential consumers about sex, nudity, etc.) but the iPhone version was rejected for “excessively objectionable or crude content.” Munson removed 16 images, which apparently shifted the ratio enough to make the Apple folks happy. (For those who like to skip straight to the good stuff, the deleted images are at the link.) Munson noted that “The deletions were plainly based purely on the visual representation, not the context of the pieces.”
I felt a sense of déjà vu when I saw that one of the works that had been rejected – censored – was a 1983 page from The Adventures of Omaha the Cat Dancer that showed Omaha waking up naked in bed after a festive evening. Omaha had been the focus of a 1986 obscenity case that eventually led my biz partner, Denis Kitchen, to found the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. And here we are censoring Omaha again in 2011.
And by a weird coincidence, my husband, IP attorney and law professor Marc Greenberg, had just finished writing an in-depth article about cases of the CBLDF, so all summer I had been hearing horror stories about people having their lives wrecked for happening to own, sell, or transport the “wrong” comic book.
The Android version, meanwhile, flew through without a hitch.
On the one hand, it’s regrettable that Apple, having loosened up quite a bit, still balked at putting this app on the iPhone. On the other hand, if you put a giant penis on the cover of your comic, you have to expect some pushback — and with underground comics, outrageousness was always part of the point. If nobody is outraged, you might as well be drawing Baby Huey.